One of our most idyllic nonprofit partners, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, provides 45 acres of bayfront sanctuaries connecting people with air plants of the world, native nature, and our regional history. Selby Gardens consists of two campuses: the 15-acre Downtown Sarasota campus and the 30-acre Historic Spanish Point campus in Osprey. It is within these properties that visitors from around the world can learn about native Florida, lush, tropical gardens, and an archaeological record that encompasses approximately 5,000 years of Florida history. It’s rare to meet a visitor or native who doesn’t gush about the natural beauty of the Gardens and its outstanding exhibits, rainforest garden, native flora, and so much more.
Not only does Selby Gardens shine in the sunlight with all its botanical beauty, but the nonprofit also gives back to the region in meaningful ways by partnering with Gulf Coast Community Foundation. In order for every child to enjoy and explore the gardens, in August 2019, Selby Gardens expanded its reach through its successful My Garden program. The My Garden program provides underserved youth in Sarasota and Manatee counties with complimentary, annual memberships to Selby Gardens for them and up to six members of their household, allowing the youth and their families to visit the gardens at any time throughout the year. My Garden members also receive invitations to special family friendly activities and educational offerings. Now, underserved children and their families have the opportunity to explore the majestic gardens – an opportunity for all.
With Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s partnership over the years, Selby Gardens has been able to build strong relations with youth service organizations in our community through the My Garden program. It is partnerships like these that allow organizations to continue to connect more people in our community with the natural environment and build the next generation of nature lovers. We are truly transforming together.
Additionally, with Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s support, My Garden’s current youth-serving organizations participating in the program are All Star Children’s Foundation, Boys and Girls clubs of Sarasota County, Brotherhood of Men, Child Protection Center, Children First, Easterseals Southwest Florida, Forty Carrots, Girl Scouts of Gulf Coast Florida, Girls Inc., Laurel Civic Association, Literacy Council of Sarasota, RL Taylor Community Complex, Safe Children Coalition, Sarasota County Schools, Truly Valued, UnidosNow, and Visible Men Academy. Currently, 329 households have complimentary annual memberships through this program.
The feedback from participants shows the true value of the program. “My daughter awakens her imagination by listening to the different sounds of nature,” said one mother who recently renewed her family’s My Garden membership. “It is an environment where children are motivated to explore. I really like the events they organize for the whole family.”
“Our children need places like these to nourish their souls and minds and give them an idea of how important preserving and protecting our environment is,” said another My Garden parent.
Gulf Coast Community Foundation hopes that when you next step into Selby Gardens, you’ll remember the vital work that is being done to include all of our neighbors in exploring and appreciating the Gardens.